How to Mulch Your Landscape Like a Pro! [4 Easy Steps]

How to Mulch Your Landscape Like a Pro! [4 Easy Steps]

How to Mulch Your Landscape Like a Pro! [4 Easy Steps]

Mulching like a pro involves 4 easy to follow steps which we will cover here. 

It’s true, a mulched landscape can really make a huge difference.,

And armed with this brief guide, you will be able to perfect the art of mulching your landscape!

Below you will learn all about:

  1. The different types of mulch,
  2. How to calculate your garden bed square footage,
  3. How deep you need to mulch,
  4. Finally how to calculate exactly how much mulch you need.

Step 1: Choose Your Mulch Type

Type of MulchDescriptionBenefitsCommon Uses
Wood Chip MulchAffordable and popular.Suppresses weeds; looks aesthetic.Garden beds.
Stone MulchDurable and stylish.Long-lasting; low maintenance.Decorative areas.
Pine StrawMade from pine tree needles.Cheap; effective against erosion.Sloped areas of garden.
Other OrganicsIncludes compost, leaves, etc.Improves soil fertility.Vegetable gardens.

It's true, there are so many types of mulch you can choose from. And each one will offer different benefits, and drawbacks.

There are three main types of organic mulch; 

  1. Wood chips, 
  2. Stone, 
  3. And other organic mulches.

Let’s break them down!

Wood Chip Mulch

Woodchip mulch is likely the most popular type of mulch that there is. It looks great in garden beds, keeps back weeds, and it’s very affordable. 

There are a few types of wooden mulch too, these include:

  • Pine Bark Chips/nuggets,
  • Cedar Mulch,
  • Dyed or undyed wood chips. 

Dyed wood chips are likely the most commonly used mulching material in most parts of the US. And overall, most wood chip mulches offer the same protections. 

Pro Tip: Cedar mulch has the added benefit of repealing fleas and other insects! So it may be the best choice for homeowners. 

Important note on measuring mulch: When it comes to purchasing wood chip mulches you can purchase it bagged or in bulk. In general most bags of mulch contain 2 cubic feet of material. 

Stone Mulch

No doubt about it, stone mulch can be gorgeous! 

Best of all, when it is properly maintained, it can last for many years

However, there are some drawbacks to stone mulch: it is generally much more expensive, and harder to spread.  Additionally, stone mulch can get in the way when you are installing new plants, or altering your garden

Important note on measuring mulch: Stone can be purchased in bulk or by the bag. Most bags of mulch contain roughly .5 cubic feet per bag. 

Other Organic Mulches

There are so many other organic mulches that we couldn’t possibly name them all here. 

Some of the most popular mulches that fit in this category include:

Among these, the most popular option is likely pine straw. 

Important note on measuring mulch: Pine straw is cheap and purchased in bales which contain about 6 cubic feet of pine straw. 

Now that you know what mulch you will use, lets find out how much you need!

Step 2: Calculating Your Garden Bed Square Footage

The first step to finding out how much mulch you will need, is to calculate the square footage of your garden beds

Calculating the square footage of your garden beds can vary on the shape of the bed. 

Square and Rectangular Beds

Calculating square footage in square and rectangular beds is easy. 

Simply measure the length by the width. And that's it!

For Example: if a bed is 14’ x 2 feet, multiply 14 x 2 which gives you 28 square feet. 

Triangular Beds

Triangular garden bed square footage can be calculated by multiplying the base by the height of the triangle, and then dividing by 2

For example: if the base is 7, and the height is 7, multiply the base by the height, which gives you 49. Then divide by 2. Which leaves you with 24.5 square feet. 

Circular Beds

Finally to calculate the square footage of a circular garden bed you will need to measure the radius of the circle, square it and multiply that number by π.

For example: if the radius of the circle is 3, you will multiply that number by itself which gives you 9. Now multiply 9 by π (3.14159) and you are left with 28.2 square feet.

Step 3: Determine Mulch Depth

Optimal Mulching Depth:

Now you need to figure out how deep you want to mulch

How deep you should mulch depends on a few factors. 

In general 3 inches is perfect, but add accordingly if the following factors apply:

Warning! Never exceed 8 inches of mulch as this could cause a fire. 

Step 4: Calculate Mulch Quantity

How to Calculate How Much Mulch to Order:

Now that you have the square footage of your lawn, total them up. 

In the example in the infographic we need 140 square feet of mulch. Now we need to calculate how many cubic feet we need by multiplying by the depth in feet. 

For example: a 140 square foot garden bed mulched at 3 inches deep will need 35 cubic feet of mulch material. If you are using wooden mulch which is packaged in 2 cubic feet, you will need 17.5 bags of mulch.

Important note on measuring mulch: there are 27 Cubic feet in one cubic yard. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use mulch on all types of plants? 

Yes, but be mindful of the mulch type and the specific needs of the plants.

How often should I replace mulch? 

Typically, organic mulches need replacing every year as they decompose and enrich the soil..

Is it necessary to remove old mulch before adding new mulch?

It is not necessary to remove old mulch unless there is a risk of fungal growth or it is significantly decomposed. Simply add a new layer on top to maintain the desired depth.

What is the best time of year to apply mulch?

The best times to apply mulch are late spring after the soil has warmed up, and in the fall to protect plants over the winter.

What Depth of Mulch is Recommended for My Garden?

Generally, a depth of 3 inches is ideal. Adjust this based on factors like drought-proneness (add 1-2 inches), weed presence (add 2-4 inches), or if it's a new bed (add 2 inches). Never exceed 8 inches to avoid fire hazards.

TLDR: How to Mulch Your Landscape Like a Pro

1. Choose Your Mulch Type: Select from options like wood chips, stone, or other organic mulches based on your garden’s needs. Consider factors like cost, appearance, and maintenance.

2. Calculate Garden Bed Area: Measure the square footage of your garden beds. The method varies by the shape:

  • Rectangular Beds: Length x Width.
  • Triangular Beds: (Base x Height)/2.
  • Circular Beds: Radius² x π (3.14159).

3. Determine Mulch Depth: Typically, 3 inches is adequate, but adjust based on specific conditions like drought or weed presence.

4. Calculate Mulch Quantity: Multiply the total square footage by the desired depth to find out how much mulch you need. Remember, 2 cubic feet per bag is standard for wood chips, and 0.5 cubic feet for stone mulch.

The Bottom Line On Mulching Like A Pro

Mulch has a lot of great benefits, and calculating the amount of mulch you need properly is the first step to creating an amazing landscape. 

Mulching like a pro involves four simple steps: choosing the right type of mulch, calculating your garden bed square footage, determining the necessary depth of mulch, and accurately figuring out the quantity of mulch needed.

If you found this guide useful be sure to share it with your friends and family so you can all have an excellent yard! 

For the complete infographic go here to our How To Measure How Much Mulch You Need Infographic

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